Runaways Volume 4: True Believers

Storytellers:  Brian Vaughan and Adrian Alphona
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Year of Publication: 2005
Page Count: 6 issues, Collects Runaways Volume 2 #1-6

What I learned about writing/Storytelling
1.  Vaughan does a good job of working in exposition for new readers coming into Volume 2, and does it in a natural sounding way.  He starts with the Wrecking Crew robbing a bank. They talk about the fact that they can now engage in crimes on the West Coast, since the Pride organization is out of business. Then, our heroes show up, each displaying their power while making a quip that states their background.  (A bad guy says “They’re muties!” The alien girl responds “Excuse me. I’m an extraterrestrial… and proud of it” and the mutant girl says “besides, the word ‘mutie’ is offensive to people like me.” A bad guy later says  “Wizards, gene freaks, time travelers, you’re The Pride’s kids, ain’t you?” completing the exposition.

In issue 2, he recaps the exposition again, without sounding unnatural, by having people briefed on the kids:
exposition page from Runaways volume 2

(That page also demonstrates how minimalistic Vaughan’s dialogue can be while still communicating a lot of information. Vaughan talks about comic writing as being like writing a Haiku, and tries to cut down on dialogue and panel count.)

2.  Establishing a unique tone for your book early on is always a good thing.  Vaughan does this upfront by showing his heroes don’t care about the money stolen from the bank:

Runaways heroes don't care about stolen money

3.  There’s a lot of great dialogue here.  Vaughan gives his characters unique voices. Here’s an example of a line that can only be said by this particular character, but you can also imagine him writing the scene five different ways with each of his five characters asking about the classmate in a different way:

good dialogue from Runaways

4.  Having different characters react differently to a situation is a decent dramatic strategy for a team book.  Here, we have a character excited about driving fast and another nervous:

Runaways driving fast

What I learned about art/storytelling:
1. This image didn’t completely work for me, as the second panel doesn’t feel like its happening in the middle of a fight, it seems like an isolated moment of time.

Runaways fight scene

It seems in a fight, you really have to choose angles and images that maintain the intensity.

Recommendation: B+

This is a reread, since I wanted to look at something I knew I would like. The book is certainly good. My main quibble, that prevents it from getting an A, is the fact that there’s some lulls where there isn’t a strong sense of story progression or story structure, and I’m like “Huh. That is kinda just a book about kids running away as people chase them.” In volume 1, they are running from their parents, in volume 2, it’s third rate Avengers characters, which is inherently less dramatic.  While it does come together into something interesting by the end, there’s maybe a little too much decompressed chase stuff. Also, come to think of it, the premise lacks urgency, since it involves an Ultron plot not meant to come to fruition for a decade.